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Jon Wood: Grinds My Gears: Can SOE Make It?

Column By Jon Wood on May 20, 2011

The question burning in my mind, and the minds of many others these last few days is a simple one: Can SOE make it in a post-PSN hack environment.

I’m not going to spend time re-hashing the ins and outs and specifics of the incident. it suffices enough to say that security issues forced Sony to close down its PlayStation Network and that later, as a result of the same security breach, Sony Online Entertainment was forced to shut its servers down on May 2nd, and kept them down until May 14th, denying their players access to their games.

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In recompense, the company has offered 45 days of free game time to existing accounts, and a slew of secondary game-specific goodies to ease the pain of their customers.

By and large, the compensation is pretty fair, and some might even say generous. So why, then, is there any concern at all about the company’s long-term viability?

Well, we’ll start with the obvious: a security breach. I know full well that Sony tells us that they are fixing or have fixed it all up now, I know that there are going to be a lot of folks out there who question the wisdom of using their newly obtained replacement credit cards with the company who were arguably responsible for the security compromise in the first place. I’ve seen it happen with other companies, and I don’t doubt that there will be a fair number of gamers who choose to spend their money elsewhere.

Even before this security crisis hit, things weren’t looking good for Sony Online Entertainment. Ever since the cancellation of The Agency and the fairly substantial layoffs that came with it, there has been concern. Even assurances from SOE itself have people concerned about both the EverQuest Next project and the Planetside Next project as well, not to mention the slew of games currently on offer as part of the Station Pass.


Then, there’s DC Universe Online. While unconfirmed, it was the thought of many around the gaming industry that the people at SOE had put a lot of faith in the DC Universe project, and that if the game were to fail to live up to expectations, the company would be in trouble. In my opinion, it’s time to call this one less than the rousing success that SOE wanted it to be and face the music. While I personally enjoyed the game while I played it, there were just too many bugs and exploits, not enough content, and too much time and pushed deadlines with any updates in content.

Finally, I wanted to talk about games that are left to languish with the Station Pass. Instead of getting the developer attention that they deserve, with a full team to pull some of them up by their bootstraps, games just seem to wither and die on the vine, and no one wants to see that happen to a game that they’ve invested time and money into.



And so, a company that has had its rocky roads with customers in the past, is having it all brought back up again. I’m not saying that SOE has no chance. I’m not making a judgement about the company itself, but in the end, to my mind, there needs to be a change, and soon, or Sony might find it harder and harder to continue  producing games.

So, what I’d like to know from all of you in this week’s Grinds my Gears, is whether or not this security breach has in any way changed your opinions on SOE?
 

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Jon Wood
Jon Wood has been with MMORPG.com since the summer of 2005. In that time, he has served as new Manager, Community Manager and Managing Editor. Before coming to MMORPG.com, Jon spent time as a writer and quest designer for WISH.
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